Monthly Archives: February 2017

America’s Sinking Navy: The Russian Threat

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of key naval developments. 

U.S. Navy Adm. Mark Ferguson, who commands NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, and U.S. Navy forces in Europe and Africa,  reports that “From the North Atlantic to the Black Sea, Russia is fielding an increasingly capable navy…unveiling a new maritime strategy and demonstrating new equipment and capabilities at sea. The strategy is clearly aimed at deterring NATO maritime forces, he said, and is not defensive. The proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force is increasing…”

The Office of Naval Intelligence  notes that Moscow’s navy “is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional strikes against an enemy’s land facilities, destroying enemy naval formations at sea and in base, interdicting enemy maritime and oceanic sea lines of communication while protecting its own shipping, cooperating with ground forces in continental theaters of military operations, making amphibious landings, repelling enemy landings, and fulfilling other missions.”

Research from Ponars Eurasia  explains that “Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent reinforcement of the region’s military forces have been combined with a general increase in naval activity—including aggressive activity vis-à-vis NATO countries’ maritime interests beyond the Black Sea…”

The Federation of American Scientists notes that “The new technologically advanced Russian Navy… will also provide a flexible platform for Russia to demonstrate offensive capability, threaten neighbors, project power regionally, and advance President Putin’s stated goal of returning Russia to clear great power status…As Russia asserts itself on the world stage, it is giving priority of effort and funding to recapitalizing its navy. The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, has asserted that “The Russian Navy is being equipped with the newest; including precision long-range strike weapons, and has big nuclear power. Naval forces today are capable of operating for a long time and with high combat readiness in operationally important areas of the global ocean”

Sputnik News reports that “The Russian Navy received a total of four combat surface ships, four submarines and 52 auxiliary ships in 2015,” according to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.

While Europe remains the main focus of the Russian military, the Russian Navy has been intent on dominating the Arctic and significantly increasing its power in the Pacific, where it has held joint war training games with China.

Moscow has established a number of new bases in the Arctic. Stratfor  reports that “…the militarization of the Arctic — and by extension, the construction of new bases or the repurposing of old Soviet facilities — will remain one of the Russian military’s top priorities in the coming years.”

A Japan Times/Reuters article notes that “Interviews with officials and military analysts and reviews of government documents show Russia’s buildup is the biggest since the 1991 Soviet fall and will, in some areas, give Moscow more military capabilities than the Soviet Union once had…The expansion has far-reaching financial and geopolitical ramifications… It is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world’s largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, used to clear channels for military and civilian ships. U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, in a separate written submission, described Moscow’s Arctic moves as ‘aggressive steps.’… “The modernization of Arctic forces and of Arctic military infrastructure is taking place at an unprecedented pace not seen even in Soviet times,’ Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief, told Reuters. He said two special Arctic brigades had been set up, something the USSR never had, and that there were plans to form a third as well as special Arctic coastal defense divisions.

Russia’s extraordinary naval buildup far from Europe is not confined to the colder climes. Moscow’s military presence in the Pacific is being bolstered by new ships, submarines, and strengthened bases.

U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harris warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Ships and submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet and long range aircraft routinely demonstrate Russia’s message that it is a Pacific power. 6 Russian ballistic missile and attack submarines remain especially active in the region. The arrival in late 2015 of Russia’s newest class of nuclear ballistic missile submarine (DOLGORUKIY SSBN) in the Far East is part of a modernization program for the Russian Pacific Fleet and signals the seriousness with which Moscow views this region.

America’s Sinking Navy: The Chinese Threat

Part 2 of The New York Analysis of Policy and Government’s three-part series on the growing danger from a weakened American Navy, at a time when Russia and China have dramatically strengthened their fleets. 

GROWING THREATS

The perilous and diminished condition of the U.S. Navy must be contrasted with the rapidly growing strength of its Russian and Chinese adversaries.

CHINA

Andrew Erickson, writing for the National Interest, notes that “ China has parlayed the world’s second-largest economy and second-largest defense budget into the world’s largest ongoing comprehensive naval buildup, which has already yielded the world’s second-largest navy China may assemble a combat fleet that in overall order of battle (hardware only) is quantitatively, and perhaps even qualitatively, in the same league as the USN. In my personal opinion, even the perception that China was on track to achieve such parity would have grave consequences for America’s standing and influence across the Asia-Pacific and around the world.

The ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016” notes that “Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, antiair, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection.”…China is expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the “far seas,” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. In late November, China publicly confirmed its intention to build military supporting facilities in Djibouti…This Chinese initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing geopolitical clout, extending the reach of its influence and armed forces…

Admiral Harris, the U.S. Navy Pacific Commander, has told the U.S. Senate that China’s Navy is increasing its routine operations in the Indian Ocean, expanding the area and duration of operations and exercises in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and is beginning to act as a global navy – venturing into other areas, including Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Congressional Research Service has released its analysis of the challenge. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government provides this summary:

China is building a modern and regionally powerful navy with a limited but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. Observers of Chinese and U.S. military forces view China’s improving naval capabilities as posing a potential challenge in the Western Pacific to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain control of blue-water ocean areas in wartime—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War. More broadly, these observers view China’s naval capabilities as a key element of an emerging broader Chinese military challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning.

China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a broad array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises…

Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following:

  • whether the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough and capable enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime A2/AD forces while also adequately performing other missions around the world;
  • whether the Navy’s plans for developing and procuring long-range carrier-based aircraft and long-range ship-and aircraft-launched weapons are appropriate;
  • whether the Navy can effectively counter Chinese ASBMs and submarines; and
  • whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.

The Report concludes tomorrow

America’s Sinking Navy

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part series on the growing danger from a weakened American Navy, at a time when Russia and China have dramatically strengthened their fleets. 

The severe effects of eight years of disinvestment are taking hold on the United States Navy, at the same time that massive investment by Russia and China have dramatically increased the threat at sea. America has not been this imperiled on the oceans since the middle of World War 2.

An unclassified study by the Mitre organization found that the “Navy’s budget is insufficient to fund required force levels. The Navy’s budget is insufficient to develop, procure, operate, and sustain all the forces need to meet the revised defeat / hold scenario force structure. In addition, budget instability forces the Navy to make acquisition decisions that undermine affordability initiatives…for the last four years, the Navy has been operating under reduced top-lines and significant shortfalls. There will likely continue to be increasing pressure on the procurement accounts, which in turn threatens the near-term health of the defense industrial base.”

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Adm. William F. Moran painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit. Moran told committee members the ongoing demand for U.S. Naval forces far exceeds its long-term supply. And, he added, the Navy is the smallest it’s been in 99 years, making it urgent to “adequately fund, fix and maintain the fleet we do have.”The U.S. Navy has never been busier in a world of global threats, Admiral Moran said. While the Navy is getting the job done the unrelenting pace, inadequate resources and small size are taking their toll.

“For years, we’ve all learned to live with less and less, we have certainly learned to execute our budget inefficiently with nine consecutive continuing resolutions,” Moran said. But this has forced the Navy to repeatedly take money from cash accounts that are the lifeblood of building long-term readiness in its ranks, he added.

Moran’s testimony  painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit, noting that “As our Sailors and Navy civilians… prepare to ensure our next ships and aircraft squadrons deploy with all that they need, the strain is significant and growing…our shipyards and aviation depots are struggling to get our ships and airplanes through maintenance periods on time. In turn, these delays directly impact the time Sailors have to train and hone their skills prior to deployment. These challenges are further exacerbated by low stocks of critical parts and fleet-wide shortfalls in ordnance, and an aging shore infrastructure…It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years…

“Our readiness challenges go deeper than ship and aircraft maintenance, directly affecting our ability to care for the Navy Team. Our people are what make the U.S. Navy the best in the world, but our actions do not reflect that reality. To meet the constraints of the Balanced Budget Act, the Navy’s FY 2017 budget request was forced to reduce funding for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves. These reductions have been compounded by the Continuing Resolution, which imposed even further reductions on that account. Without sufficient PCS funding, the Navy will be unable to move Sailors to replace ship and squadron crewmembers leaving service, increasing the strain on those who remain. This is an area in which timing also matters greatly. Even if the money comes eventually, if it is too late, necessary moves will be delayed until the beginning of the new fiscal year. That means our Sailors with children will be forced to relocate their children in the middle of a school year. And because we don’t know if and when additional PCS funding may come, we cannot give our Sailors and their families much time to prepare, often leaving them with weeks, rather than months, to prepare for and conduct a move, often from one coast, or even one country, to another. Meanwhile, our shore infrastructure has become severely degraded and is getting worse because it has been a repeated bill payer for other readiness accounts in an effort to maintain afloat readiness. Consequently, we continue to carry a substantial backlog of facilities maintenance and replacement, approaching $8 billion.

“Time is running out. Years of sustained deployments and constrained and uncertain funding have resulted in a readiness debt that will take years to pay down. If the slow pace of readiness recovery continues, unnecessary equipment damage, poorly trained operators at sea, and a force improperly trained and equipped to sustain itself will result. Absent sufficient funding for readiness, modernization and force structure, the Navy cannot return to full health, where it can continue to meet its mission on a sustainable basis.”

A Defense News analysis put the crisis in stark terms: “…nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog…more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them…there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow…some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods.”

The Report continues Monday

NASA’s Course Set to Change, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its three part review of NASA’s future under the Trump Administration.

A Scribd-published study of a NexGen Space LLC study,  partly funded by a grant from NASA found that:

“…a human return to the Moon may not be as expensive as previously thought…America could lead a return of humans to the surface of the Moon within a period of 5-7 years … at an estimated total cost of about $10 Billion (+/- 30%) …America could lead the development of a permanent industrial base on the Moon of 4 private-sector astronauts in about 10-12 years after setting foot on the Moon that could provide 200 MT of propellant per year in lunar orbit for NASA for a total cost of about $40 Billion (+/- 30%)…Assuming NASA receives a flat budget, these results could potentially be achieved within NASA’s existing deep space human spaceflight budget…A commercial lunar base providing propellant in lunar orbit might substantially reduce the cost and risk NASA of sending humans to Mars. The ELA would reduce the number of required Space Launch System (SLS) launches from asmany as 12 to a total of only 3, thereby reducing SLS operational risks, and increasing its affordability…A permanent commercial lunar base might substantially pay for its operations by exporting propellant to lunar orbit for sale to NASA and others to send humans to Mars, thus enabling the economic development of the Moon at a small marginal cost…”

The widespread fascination with travel to Mars was given verbal support by Obama, but the premature ending of both the space shuttle program and the cancellation of its intended manned successor, the Constellation program, were not conducive to accomplishing advances in human spaceflight technology.

Although NASA wants to send Astronauts to Mars several decades in the future, the actual preliminary work to do so has been lax.

In an interview with Space.com, the Director of space policy at the Planetary Society noted that Trump “is inheriting a space program that has this nascent ambition to go to Mars but doesn’t have hardware actually flying yet.”

Given the slow pace of development of human-rated spacecraft development NASA, including the rockets to take them off Earth, a reflection of its de-emphasis during the Obama Administration, the new Administration may turn to the private sector for the necessary hardware.

Bruce Dorminey, writing in Forbes, quotes former Pennsylvania  Congressman and Trump adviser Bob Walker: “The specifics of [Trump-era] missions will be determined within the overall goal of human exploration of the solar system, but clearly, the long–term, overall goal of Trump space policy anticipates human exploration far beyond low-Earth orbit and even beyond Mars…  President-elect Trump made space policy a major part of his final campaign message and Vice President-elect Pence has been very enthusiastic about the role he would assume as head of the new National Space Council…The council would help keep space issues front and center during the Trump Administration.”

Walker, as quoted by Dorminey,  believes Trump’s space goals include:

“Setting the goal and beginning technological implementation of human exploration of our solar system by the end of this century; Re-direction of NASA budgets toward deep space science; Creation of an aggressive program for development of hypersonic technology; [and] Begin negotiations to assure the viability of the International Space Station (ISS) beyond 2028.”

The method in which space policy is set under the Trump Administration may differ significantly than that of his predecessor.  The new White House may reconstitute the National Space Council, which would be led by Vice President Michael Pence. According to Neel Patel, writing in Inverse  “Jim Muncy, a space lobbyist who leads the consultancy PoliSpace, says he’s spoken with Pence and that the now Vice President-elect is “really looking forward to the space council.”

NASA’s Course Set to Change, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its review of NASA’s role in the Trump Administration.

One mission apparently advocated by the Trump Administration is a relatively quick return to the Moon. According to the Wall Street Journal the Trump White House will seek to expand public-private partnerships for NASA, including, according to White House documents, “a rapid and affordable” return to the lunar surface.

A 2008 NASA report, developed before President Obama entered the White House and changed the agency’s focus to climate change, explained the importance of a return to the moon:

“President Bush’s 2004 proposal to return to the Moon, this time ‘to stay’ with a lunar outpost, has stimulated vigorous debate… Neil Armstrong and his colleagues demonstrated that humans on the spot provide instant interpretation of their environment, guided by color, 3D, high resolution human vision that is only now being approached by robotic systems. Even encumbered by space suits, they could instantly recognize and collect invaluable samples such as the ‘Genesis Rock’ of Apollo 15, an anorthosite that has proven essential to understanding the geologic history of the Moon. When the Apollo 17 rover lost a fender – which might have terminated a robotic rover’s mission – astronauts Cernan and Schmitt managed a field repair and kept driving. All the Apollo astronauts emplaced complex geophysical instrument stations, most operating for years until budget cuts forced them to be turned off…what could such an outpost accomplish? First, it could continue the exploration of the Moon, whose surface area is roughly that of North and South America combined. Six ‘landings’ in North America would have given us only a superficial knowledge of this continent, and essentially none about its natural resources such as minerals, oil, water power, and soil. The Moon is a whole planet, so to speak, whose value is only beginning to be appreciated.

“The Moon is not only an interesting object of study, but a valuable base for study of the entire Universe, by providing a site for astronomy at all wavelengths from gamma rays to extremely long radio waves. This statement would have been unquestioned 30 years ago. But the succeeding decades of spectacular discoveries by space-based instruments, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, have led many astronomers such as Nobel Laureate John Mather to argue that the Moon can be by-passed, and that instruments in deep space at relatively stable places called Lagrangian points are more effective…

“The Moon may offer mineral resources… of great value on Earth. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, working with the Fusion Technology Institute of the University of Wisconsin, has shown that helium 3, an isotope extremely rare on Earth, exists in quantity in the lunar soil, implanted by the solar wind. If – a very big if – thermonuclear fusion for energy is produced on Earth, helium 3 would be extremely valuable for fusion reactors because it does not make the reactor radioactive. A more practicable use of helium 3, being tested at the University of Wisconsin, is the production of short-lived medical isotopes. Such isotopes must now be manufactured in cyclotrons and quickly delivered before they decay. But Dr. Schmitt suggests that small helium 3 reactors could produce such isotopes at the hospital. In any event, research on the use of helium 3 would clearly benefit if large quantities could be exported to the Earth.

“Returning to the most important reason for a new lunar program, dispersal of the human species, the most promising site for such dispersal is obviously Mars, now known to have an atmosphere and water. Mars itself is obviously a fascinating object for exploration. But it may even now be marginally habitable for astronaut visits, and in the very long view, might be “terraformed,” or engineered to have a more Earth-like atmosphere and climate. This was described in Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy, Red Mars and its successors Green and Blue Mars. A second Earth, so to speak, would greatly improve our chances of surviving cosmic catastrophes.

“Where does the Moon fit into this possibility? First, it would continue to give us experience with short interplanetary trips, which is what the Apollo missions were. These would demonstrably be relatively short and safe compared to Mars voyages, but would provide invaluable test flights, so to speak. More important, shelters, vehicles, and other equipment built for the Moon could be over-designed, and with modification could be used on Mars after being demonstrated at a lunar outpost…

“… put the arguments for a return to the Moon, and a lunar outpost, in the most general terms: the Moon is essentially a whole planet, one that has so far been barely touched. But this new planet is only a few days travel away and we have already camped on it. To turn our backs on the Moon would be equivalent to European exploration stopping after Columbus’s few landings, or China’s destruction of its giant ships to concentrate on domestic problems in the 15th century.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

NASA’s Course Set to Change

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines NASA’s immediate future in a three-part review

A more definite picture of NASA’s future direction is emerging.

Advocates of space exploration were gratified to note the inclusion of space research in the President’s inaugural address (“We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space.”) In a reversal of the role Obama mandated the space agency to play, the new Administration is emphasizing manned space flight and the pursuit of major goals for human exploration beyond low earth orbit, in the near term, using American spacecraft.

The Morning Ticker recently noted that “The incredible upset win of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton could have huge ramifications for NASA. Donald Trump may send America back to the moon. That’s what some people are saying now that he and the Republican Party has swept into power, including Newt Gingrich, who himself loves the idea of a colony on the moon. The transition from an Obama presidency to a Trump administration is certain to be a jarring one for NASA. The agency can expect a significant revamp in its mission, focusing much less on climate change and more on space missions, including possibly our first trip to the moon in decades. Analysts suggest that the administration may push for a lunar landing as a stepping stone on the way to Mars. It would also be a very public way to reassert the U.S.’s mastery of the space domain and our closest neighbor.”

According to the Daily Caller,  SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk “made two trips to Trump Tower during the transition period and discussed how NASA could be primed to send astronauts to Mars using public-private partnerships, according to The Washington Post. Trump also met…with space program historian Douglas Brinkley about the Apollo program, which took NASA to the moon during the 1960s…Another billionaire space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow, thinks that Trump could potentially double NASA’s budget.

There is some similarity in that both Trump and his predecessor favor an expanded role for private sector technology.

A 2015 study by the National Defense University notes that “U.S. government policies over the past decade have focused on shifting space activities from the public sector to the more efficient private sector…Government policies have encouraged and supported the rise of new entrants and entrepreneurs into the space launch and broader space transportation market…overcoming the hurdles of high upfront capital investment costs. These new entrants are implementing process and pursuing product innovation in the rocket and on-rocket, orbital and suborbital launch markets…”

However, the practical application of Obama’s use of the private sector was more in the nature of a replacement for NASA-developed space technology, at least in the immediate future., and particularly in the realm of manned space flight. Trump’s outlook is concentrated on having the private sector complement an ambitious and timely human space program.

The prior president mandated NASA’s attention be directed to efforts intended to assist a climate change agenda. The new Administration appears prepared to return the space agency to its original function. The time table for significant manned space accomplishments appears set to move faster under the Trump Administration.

Trump has long believed that NASA’s emphasis on climate change during the Obama Administration was a misuse of the agency’s budget.  He also doubts the veracity of some of the data produced by various sources used to justify funding within the space agency for that purpose. In a criticism of NASA data, a Real Science review noted that in 1989:

 …scientists from the United States Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a study of temperature readings for the contiguous 48 states over the last century showed there had been no significant change in average temperature over that period…But in the year 2000, NASA and NOAA altered the historical US temperature record, which now shows that there was about one degree centigrade US warming during the century before 1989…The altering of Icelandic data by NASA was particularly troubling, because the cooling from 1940 to 1980 was a well known and difficult historical period in Iceland. NASA  erased Iceland’s history, without even the courtesy to contact Iceland’s experts…Additionally, we know that there was tremendous warming in the Arctic prior to the 1940s, which Hansen has erased from the historical record in Iceland, Greenland and elsewhere.”

The report continues tomorrow

The War on Unalienable Rights, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the war on unalienable rights.

Robert Curry, writing in The Federalist, describes why the Declaration’s “Unalienable” concept is so vital:

“Others before the American Founders had dreamed of a political order of liberty and justice, but every previous attempt ended in failure…The Declaration does not simply declare America’s independence; it declares that every government not designed and dedicated to securing the unalienable rights of its people is illegitimate…The great failing of earlier attempts at the people ruling themselves was the tendency for them to become tyrannies of the majority. That we have unalienable rights determines a fundamental feature the design of the American regime of liberty, and any legitimate regime, must have. It must be designed to prevent a tyranny of the majority because a tyranny of the majority directly threatens our unalienable rights.”

The obvious question, then, is why would anyone who professes a loyalty to the Constitution seek to oppose the concept of unalienable rights?

The answer is that to those who seek to implement a “progressive” agenda—which seeks to impose the financial and cultural views of a self-described intellectual elite on a majority that resists being told how to run their own lives and what to do with their own property—understand that their goals can only be achieved through force, and the concept if unalienable rights stands in their way.

 Matt Palumbo writes this about Progressives “In their minds, forcing people to act in accordance with their social justice ideology is perfectly fine, and not doing so actually constitutes a crime…progressives have become increasingly supportive of using the government to censor opinions they disapprove of. In nearly every case, progressive liberals are more likely to support using the coercive power of the state to force society to be structured according to their will, and yet somehow they see themselves as good and just for doing so.”

The preference by progressive politicians for authoritarian socialist governments has been noticeable for some time.  Just one example: in 2002, reports the Weekly Standard, “16 U.S. congressmen voiced their approval for [now deceased] Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Representatives Barney Frank, John Conyers, Chaka Fattah, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, and others complained in a letter to President Bush that the United States was not adequately protecting Chavez against a groundswell of internal opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule–an upsurge that might lead to his ouster. Elected to power in 1998, Lt. Col. Chavez has hijacked democracy in Venezuela and is openly moving the country toward totalitarianism. Beyond Venezuela’s borders, he celebrates, protects, and does business with terrorists.”

 The diminishment of unalienable rights is not just a theoretical threat. The growing trend of progressive repression of the unalienable right of free speech can be seen today clearly on college campuses, where centrist and conservative speakers are kept out by force.  Llewllyn Rockwell, Jr., writing for the renowned Mises Institute  notes: “ it’s no wonder the left needs the total state…leftists who terrorize their ideological opponents are simply being faithful to the mandate of Herbert Marcuse, the 1960s leftist who argued that freedom of speech had to be restricted in the case of anti-progressive movements…”

Emmett Tyrell, Jr., , quoting William Harcourt, notes that “Liberty does not consist in making others do what you think is right. The difference between a free government and a government which is not free is principally this—that a government which is not free interferes with everything it can, and a free government interferes with nothing except what it must.”

Those that deny the existence of unalienable rights inevitably excuse their attacks on fundamental freedoms imbedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with rationale’s both small and large. Whatever the excuse, whatever the cause, however, the end result will be the same if progressives, through force, intimidation, or public pressure get their way: the vast diminishment of freedom.

The War on Unalienable Rights

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a two-part review of the growing, and disturbing, trend to disregard the concept of unalienable rights.

Some Left-wing journalists, politicians, and judges are engaged in a singular effort to overturn the central tenet of American rights and government, the concept of “unalienable rights” which should not be limited or abolished by elected officials.

Recently, news commentator Chris Cuomo disturbingly displayed what has become a major thrust of Progressive political philosophy.

The exchange, as described in the Washington Times:  “It isn’t often that a member of the media reveals the philosophy behind his political ideology, but last week, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo outed himself. In an exchange with Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore said ‘…our rights contained in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution, they come from God.’ Cuomo disagreed: ‘Our laws do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man.’ Obviously, Cuomo flunked civics….The framers of the Constitution clearly understood that in order to put certain rights out of the reach of government, whose power they wished to limit, those rights had to come from a place government could not reach.”

If this exchange was an isolated incident, some might feel comfortable in ignoring it.  However, that is clearly not the case. No less a person than an incoming United States Supreme Court Justice has also expressed a similar lack of respect for the central principle behind the entire structure of American government and law.

During the confirmation hearings of Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Sen. Tom Coburn had a testy exchange in which he pushed her to state her belief in fundamental rights.  She evaded answering.

Cuomo nor Kagan are not isolated examples. They are emblematic of a significant movement favoring the eliminating the concept of unalienable rights.

The primacy of unalienable rights in America’s governing concept is neither complex nor obscure.  The Declaration of Independence is crystal clear, using these unambiguous words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”

It is also enshrined in the Bill of Rights, which specifically states in Amendment 9:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Amendment 9 recognizes that the government only has those rights specifically provided in the Constitution. The concept of limited federal government is fortified as well by the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Nor is the concept a Republican-partisan one.  In his extraordinary inaugural address,    President John F. Kennedy stated: “…the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

A study by Lonang Institute described unalienable rights as those that are “incapable of being lost or sold. Unalienable rights are retained despite government decrees to the contrary because civil government does not grant them in the first case. Moreover, no future generation may be disenfranchised of any unalienable right by the present generation…The Declaration translated the common principles of equality and unalienable rights into positive law. Civil government was and is obliged to observe the rule of legal equality. It must recognize that all human beings enjoy certain unalienable rights from God–rights that are not created by the civil government, but which that government is nevertheless obligated to protect to the extent that the people articulate such rights in their constitutions or statutes…The modern lament is even more sweeping. Not only are there philosophers who deny these principles, but their protégés are appointed to the judicial bench, they percolate through the state legislature and through Congress, they occupy the state house and [have occupied the] White House, and they teach and are taught in the law schools.”

The Report concludes tomorrow

Marijuana legalization Provides Revenue, at a Cost

The Associated Press (AP)   reports that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is “leading an effort to make sure vendors working with legal marijuana businesses…don’t have their banking services taken away.” According to AP, “Two years ago, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave banks permission to do business with legal marijuana entities under some conditions. Since then, the number of banks and credit unions willing to handle pot money rose from 51 in 2014 to 301 in 2016. Warren, however, said fewer than 3 percent of the nation’s 11,954 federally regulated banks and credit unions are serving the cannabis industry.”

Her views on marijuana tend to reflect a widespread sentiment throughout the nation. Drug Policy.org  reports that “There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before with new polls showing more than half the country is in favor of legalizing marijuana. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be removed from the criminal justice system and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.”

In the sort of irony that characterizes modern day America, near-hysterical warnings about commonplace substances, especially sugar and salt, long a part of standard food and beverages, are heard almost daily.  Politicians and bureaucrats produce campaigns to wean consumers away from these everyday commodities as though they were poison. And yet many of the same officials have readily jumped on the marijuana legalization bandwagon, despite significant scientific information about its harmful effects. 28 states have legalized the substance for medicinal or recreational use.

The strange nonchalance towards marijuana contrasts with medical evidence, which are listed in many sources, among them Addict-help.com

“Some of the well-known side effects of chronic, marijuana use include:

  • Can stunt brain developmentin users until around the age of 25, when the brain reaches maturity
  • Reduces thinking, learning and memory functions that can be permanent
  • Ongoing chronic use, one study suggests, results on average in an eight point IQ loss between the ages of 13 and 38
  • Can cause breathing problems, which lead to an increased risk of regular lung infections or lung related illnesses
  • Raises the heart rate, which can increase the likelihood of heart attack, especially among older users or those with existing heart problems
  • Pregnant women that smoke weed risk causing both brain and behavioral issues in their child
  • Worsens mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and suicidal thoughts
  • On average, research suggests, one out of every 11 marijuana users becomes addicted to the drug.”

Research from Northwestern University notes that recreational use by young adults caused “significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation.”

Part of the new tolerance can be traced back to a lack of knowledge of how marijuana itself has changed. A Smithsonian study reports:

“…as more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana, scientific inquiries have spiked, especially studies aimed at finding out what exactly is in today’s weed—and what it does to our bodies. In Colorado, which made marijuana legal in November 2012, the latest results show that the pot lining store shelves is much more potent than the weed of 30 years ago. But the boost in power comes at a cost—modern marijuana mostly lacks the components touted as beneficial by medical marijuana advocates, and it is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals. There’s a stereotype, a hippy kind of mentality, that leads people to assume that growers are using natural cultivation methods and growing organically,” says Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight Colorado labs certified to test cannabis. “That’s not necessarily the case at all.” LaFrate presented his results this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.LaFrate says he’s been surprised at just how strong most of today’s marijuana has become. His group has tested more than 600 strains of marijuana from dozens of producers. Potency tests, the only ones Colorado currently requires, looked at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the plant’s famous high. They found that modern weed contains THC levels of 18 to 30 percent—double to triple the levels that were common in buds from the 1980s. That’s because growers have cross-bred plants over the years to create more powerful strains, which today tout colorful names like Bruce Banner, Skunkberry and Blue Cookies.”

There is little support, nor would it prove particularly effective, to treat marijuana in the same manner as crack or heroin. But the actual reason for the enthusiasm for legalization comes from the substantial income that could be gained from taxing the product in the same manner as alcohol or tobacco.

A recent Tax Foundation study found that “A mature marijuana industry could generate up to $28 billion in tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments, including $7 billion in federal revenue: $5.5 billion from business taxes and $1.5 billion from income and payroll taxes. A federal tax of $23 per pound of product, similar to the federal tax on tobacco, could generate $500 million per year. Alternatively, a 10 percent sales surtax could generate $5.3 billion per year, with higher tax rates collecting proportionately more. The reduction of societal risk in being engaged in the marijuana trade, as well as the inclusion of taxes, will combine to reduce profits (and tax collections) somewhat from an initial level after national legalization. Society pays all the costs regardless of legality but tax revenues help offset those costs.